Where are all the women?

Lapid-Gantz merger pushes female candidates further down on the combined list.

THE KNESSET, as members voted Wednesday night to dissolve it. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
THE KNESSET, as members voted Wednesday night to dissolve it.
The merged list of the Yesh Atid and Israel Resilience parties – which was released Thursday after a deal was reached between Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz – contains just two women in its top 10.
Before the parties merged, women were more prominent on both party lists. The top 10 of the Yesh Atid list, unveiled earlier this week, contained four women. And the top 10 of the Resilience Party, also revealed this week, contained three women. But the merger of the two male-heavy parties, and the addition of former chief of staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi to the list, left the party with fewer women in high-ranking positions.
But the new Blue and White Party list is far from the worst offender in Israeli politics. Likud also has only two women in its top 10 spots, and just three in the first 20 spots on its list. By contrast, Blue and White has six women in its top 20.
Shas and United Torah Judaism have no women on their lists, and the merged Bayit Yehudi-Otzma Yehudit list currently has two. Labor has four women in its top 10 spots and eight in its top 20. The New Right Party has pledged to maintain gender parity, and has five women in its top 10 seats. Likud, Labor and Bayit Yehudi all held primaries, although mergers and reserved slots always impact the final list makeup.
“It’s very sad that a party that wants to be an alternative to the government doesn’t think it needs a woman in its top five,” Galit Wolloch, chairwoman of the Na’amat women’s organization, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. “There are enough talented and qualified women who don’t happen to be IDF generals. It’s not a matter of Right or Left, it’s a matter of values and principles.” Wolloch said Thursday afternoon that she hoped Gantz would still change his mind by the deadline late Thursday evening.
Michal Gera-Margaliot, director of the Israel Women’s Network, said it was sad to see the sidelining of women in parties on both the Right and the Left.
“The chance to grow the number of women in the Knesset was low even before they were pushed down on the lists,” she said. “Now the situation is even worse... It is inconceivable that in 2019 women will continue to be absent from the backbone of political parties.”
The activist group “I am a woman, I vote” slammed Lapid and Gantz on Thursday.
“What’s missing from this party? If we’re not generals, does that mean we don’t have a place in this party?” the group wrote on Facebook. “It seems that in the first five spots on the joint Yesh Atid-Resilience Party there isn’t even one woman. If we don’t have representation among the decision-makers, who will speak up for us, and for the reality women face every day in 2019?”
Lawyer and social activist Galia Shmilovich Gruengard said it was disappointing to see that Gantz “has only men whispering in his ear.”
“This produces a masculine discourse around him and a clearly non-diverse line of thinking,” she wrote on Facebook. 
Shmilovich Gruengard said, however, that she reached out to associates of Gantz, and received encouraging responses.
“Therefore I suggest that those who are offended by the lack of women, especially those who support Gantz and want to see him bring change, should respond to him – and explain why it is important that he also listens to women, and why women need to be part of his leading advisory team,” she said.